- helping parents choose the best private preparatory or pre-preparatory school for their child

We were very happy to have the choice between three strong schools, and believe we have chosen the best fit for Nicolas and Alexander. Thank you for all of your help – we couldn’t have done it without you.

Mr & Mrs F H

Special Educational Needs

Children Who Need Additional Support

The term “Special Educational Needs” or SEN is used when referring to children who need additional support because of a specific condition that affects how they learn. The most common of these conditions is dyslexia which affects more than 4% of the population. Dyslexia is often combined with dyspraxia and /or dyscalculia. Other quite common SENs include ADD, ADHD, Aspergers and Autism. Various SENs are collectively known as Specific Learning Difficulties – so you may see the abbreviation SpLDs.

Because children develop at different rates, it is quite common for many SENs to not become apparent till ages 7 or 8, when slow progress at school is more identifiable. Unfortunately a number of schools can be slow to pick up on these issues and a condition may go undiagnosed for a number of years. We always recommend to parents who suspect that their child may be dyslexic or have another condition that is affecting their learning to consult a private Chartered Educational Psychologist who will carry out a thorough assessment and produce a detailed report.

As a general rule, SENs are far better catered for in private (independent) schools than in state (free) schools, where the staff-pupil ratio is much lower and there are generally far more resources available. Many private schools have excellent learning support departments managed by a dedicated SENCO (SEN Coordinator), to work with children, other teaching staff, specialists and parents. Schools will devise an Independent Education Plan (IEP) for each SEN child, which will be shared with parents and all teaching staff, and regularly reviewed to ensure the child’s needs are being met.

There are many grades of learning support, but essentially your choice is between mainstream schools which provide additional learning support, or specialist SEN schools for the more severe conditions. SEN provision is not always widespread and parents may be disappointed how far their child may have to travel, in some cases causing parents to relocate. The provision for mild dyslexia is generally quite good but some other minor conditions like ADD or ADHD can be difficult if a child has behavioural issues because schools are often reluctant to accept children who might be disruptive in class.

We at Educational Advisers Ltd can often help parents to find the right school for dyslexia and other mild to medium conditions. However, we are not experts in the field of severe learning difficulties, although we will always try to point parents in the right direction to get help. We regret we can only help parents who can afford private education from their own funds. We do not help parents whose children are statemented by Local Education Authorities or those who are seeking state (free) schools. Please also be aware that the majority of UK private schools now insist on seeing a recent Chartered Education Psychologist’s report before they will even let a parent visit the school. We can point you in the direction of a CEP as part of our bespoke advice service.

Our advisory services for SEN children are always done on an hourly rated consultancy basis. However, we offer a telephone consultation of up to 30 minutes free of charge, while we try to build a profile of your child’s needs – we will not take on cases unless we feel reasonably confident of finding the right solution. We do not give out names of schools during the free consultation, but we will quote you our terms and conditions after that first discussion. Parents are forewarned that these placements usually take considerably longer than non SEN cases and that you may have to consider schools some distance from your home area. Furthermore, International parents are forewarned that many specialist SEN boarding schools do NOT have Tier 4 Status from the UK Borders Agency, which means they cannot issue visa support letters – so we often have to use schools outside the preferred London & Home Counties area in those circumstances.

In the first instance fill out our  enquiry form  or better still phone us on + 44 (0)1732 368767